We recently began funding a new study in Northern Ireland, so, right now, we're now funding stroke research in every nation of the UK. Come with us on a trip around Britain, to explore some of the projects aiming to improve people's lives after stroke.
Project: Could a medication used to treat gout help to stop stroke and TIA survivors having further strokes?
Background: We've partnered with research funders in Ireland to support a trial that looks at whether a medication called colchicine, usually used to treat gout, can stop stroke and TIA (mini-stroke) survivors from having further strokes.
This clinical trial, called CONVINCE, is taking place in nine countries across Europe. Our funding has enabled them to extend the trial to give 200 stroke and TIA survivors living in Northern Ireland the opportunity to participate.
Aims: Previous trials found that heart attack survivors treated with colchicine had fewer heart attacks and strokes, compared to those who didn't receive it. So now the CONVINCE trial is hoping to find out if colchicine has the same effect in stroke and TIA survivors. If it does, then colchicine could be offered to stroke and TIA survivors to prevent further devastating strokes, allowing them to focus on rebuilding their lives.
We spoke to Alexander Smith at Cardiff University about his work to ensure that stroke survivors are able to give their views on the treatment they receive.
Q. Tell us a bit about your research.
Patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) are questionnaires that accurately measure patients' opinions about their health after an illness or during treatment. I want to understand the circumstances that influence whether or not someone is able to complete the questionnaire after a stroke so I can develop and test an adapted version that's easier for stroke survivors to complete.
Q. Why is this important to you?
I'm an occupational therapist by background. Occupational therapy can have a big impact on stroke survivors' day-to-day lives, but it can be difficult to measure the effect it has. Using PROMs could enable us to identify and measure its impact from a stroke survivor's perspective.
Q. How are stroke survivors involved in your study?
I've set up a lived experiences group and they're advising me on all aspects of the study. They help me to understand a bit about their world, and tell me what will and won't work, so I can make the best possible adaptations and adjustments.
Q. What impact do you hope your research will have in the future?
I want to use PROMs to give stroke survivors a voice. I think it's important to allow stroke survivors to reflect and identify their priorities for rehabilitation as it puts them back in control of their recovery.
Dr Lisa Kidd from Glasgow University is working with stroke survivors in Scotland on her research into supported self-management.
'Supported self-management' is the type of help offered by community rehabilitation services when stroke survivors leave hospital. This can include groups and programmes, or one-to-one support from health care professionals.
Lisa tells us about her work:
'We're exploring what supported self-management in stroke looks like in different areas of Scotland, what makes it work and why.
Our aim is to help health care professionals and stroke survivors to work together to manage the long-term effects of stroke. And to ensure that everyone is offered high quality supported self-management, regardless of where they live.
We've researched and developed a set of ideas about what we think helps supported self-management to work. We're now asking stroke survivors and community rehabilitation teams across Scotland to tell us what they think of these ideas and if they think they'd work in their area. We'll be sharing the data we gather to see how our findings could apply around the UK.
Stroke survivors have been involved throughout our project. Our Patient and Public Involvement Group are fantastic - they've helped to shape our methods and showed us how to approach research in a more meaningful way that will make a difference to people's lives.'
What do the stroke survivors think?
'The researchers really listen to the genuine needs of stroke survivors and aim to make self-management work in the real world.
The project will ultimately give a better understanding to health professionals and stroke survivors alike of the importance of supported self-management in helping stroke survivors to move forward with their recovery. It's an honour to be part of this research.' - Patient and Public Involvement Group
How can singing support people after stroke?
About a third of stroke survivors have difficulties with communication, which can have a big impact on their mental health.
People with aphasia often tell us how singing with others at stroke groups or choirs helps their recovery. However, for singing to be offered as a stroke therapy, we need research to find out how singing groups help people with aphasia, what makes them successful, and who benefits the most from taking part.
Since 2017, we've funded Dr Mark Tarrant at Exeter University to test out a new group-based singing programme. 'We think that group singing can help people with communication difficulties after stroke by creating a safe space and strong bonds between people,' said Mark. 'This is important for people to rebuild social connections and confidence that can be devastated by stroke.'
We're continuing to work with researchers like Dr Mark, and our Stroke Support groups to find out how activities, like group singing, can improve people's wellbeing.
Have your say
We want to support UK-wide stroke research that makes a difference to people's lives. If you've had a stroke, or support someone that has, as a family member, friend or health professional, we want to hear from you.
What do you think are the most important questions or issues that future stroke research should answer? Have your say and find out more.
Stroke News magazine
This article is featured in the Spring 2020 edition of our magazine, Stroke News. Subscribe to our future editions available in print, on audio CD, or via email.